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Journal Post

Tomorrow I enter what I consider to the be the second half of my life. I will be halfway to seventy. Not that I think I will die at the young age of 70, but I might, and I want to feel like I have accomplished everything by 70. I hope to be able to enjoy my senior years with my family, students and sangha. I am thankful that I have found yoga and nutrition so early in life. I know this relationship to health has been integral in my life for the past 10 years and will continue to be ingrained in my soul for the rest of my days.
If you need some inspiration to reinvigorate your daily yoga practice, September is a great month to start.
Seniors age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing sector of the population and, like many Americans, are increasingly drawn to yoga. This presents both an extraordinary opportunity and a serious challenge for yoga instructors who must be both a resource and guardians of safety for this uniquely vulnerable group. A typical class of seniors is likely to represent the most diverse mix of abilities of any age group. While some may be exceedingly healthy, most fit the profile of the average older adult in America, 80% of whom have at least one chronic health condition and 50% of whom have at least two.
AHHH August! August brings the beginning of my favorite season of the year. The summer months are too hot and the winter months are too cold, but the end of summer and early fall are just right. My emotions are more balanced, my physical body feels more comfortable and everything just seems to flow more easily. Being out of balance can be very uncomfortable and unsettling. There are seasons of the year, cycles of the moon, transits in the sky and just periods in our lives that can bring us slightly out of balance. Two of these periods of life are Adolescence and Menopause.
We have now come to the midpoint of the year, the hottest time of the year, the longest days of the year, the peak of the summer. During these transitional times of year, is the ideal time to rest, cleanse, and reflect on where we are and where we see ourselves headed. Read this beautiful post written by iHanuman Yoga Teacher, Sara Avant Stover, which helps us to formulate an action plan for our goals, dreams and passions. We are happy to have accomplished three of our big goals this year.
Leslie Kaminoff, of the Breathing Project in New York City, found a 10 year old video of TKV Desikachar, son of Sri Krishnamacharya, and founder of the Viniyoga Tradition. This video was presumably made around the time of the publication of The Heart of Yoga. It contains a short interview in Madras, India, but the interviewer is unknown. Thanks for posting this, Leslie
John SchumacherHappy Summer Solstice! Just as we asked you to invoke the goddess last month, the longest day of year begs us to inspire the fire inside that is masculine energy. Yang energy is strong, aggressive and passionate. It is the fiery energy of summer. Spiritually, we can practice tapas or discipline, austerity and consistency. Burn your internal fire to overcome difficulties and purify yourself to cleanse the toxins and feel your personal best level of health and vitality.
I don't typically write reviews for these letters-in fact I've never written one here before-but I have a new book hot off the press that needs and deserves all the hype it can get. Last Fall I was fortunate enough to be invited to a yoga conference at Cavallo Point, just on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge, a beautiful spot (with a great restaurant) if you're ever looking for a retreat location. The gathering was billed as "An Opportunity to Consider an Authentic Voice for Yoga Today" three days of talks on topics like the relationship between yoga and buddhism, yoga and art, and yoga and tantra ... well, what did you expect yoga people to talk about when they get together?
Lately I have been practicing a series of poses recommended by Patricia Walden in Dr. Timothy McCall's book, Yoga as Medicine, which includes another of my favorite yoga poses, Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose. I love to enter Ardha Chandrasana through Utthita Trikonasana , Triangle Pose, another incredible asana. In case you had not guessed from my last Favorite Yoga Pose post, Anantasana, the external/internal hip rotation poses are a lifelong favorite of mine.
A couple of weekends ago, I attended a workshop with the illustrious Bobby Clennell. Bobby wrote AND illustrated The Woman's Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle.
May is the month we celebrate our mothers. It may seem strange to make that a plural reference, but for someone who lost her birth mother just 2 months before turning 13, I have had to learn what it means to be a mother from a community of women; sisters, aunts, teachers, colleagues and girlfriends.
Like many Sanskrit words in the Yoga lexicon, the word guru has both a literal and symbolic meaning. Literally it means "heavy, weighty; heavy in the stomach (as food), difficult to digest; excessive, difficult, hard; important, serious, momentous; valuable, highly prized; venerable, respectable." The guru is the venerable "weighty one," heavy with wisdom, that's both highly prized but at times difficult to digest, often because teaching seems to contradict everything we hold true, or because we're told things about ourselves we don't especially want to hear.
I always heard that people start to get allergies as they age and I all but prided myself on being such a picture of health that I "did not have allergies". But a young healthy woman in her teens and twenties SHOULD be healthy and free from allergies, right? This is the prime of your life. Honestly, if you want better health as you age, you must claim it for Yourself. Health is not something that is handed out to anyone on a Silver Platter.
People who have never practiced yoga before often ask me to teach them a yoga pose. The Iyengar student in me cannot help but start by teaching Tadasana. People are often astounded by how much integrity and poise there is when conscious attention is brought to the simple act standing. They are amazed at how much attention can be brought to the four corners of the feet, the inner line of the legs, the lift of the knee caps and the release of the tailbone. Once we build the foundation. we move to the upper body and take a deep inhale to engage the abdomen, lift the sternum and lift and roll the shoulders back.
I spent most of yesterday indulging in the last day of a mini 5 day retreat. Don't get me wrong, I love a good retreat as much as the next lady and I try to take mini retreats every week, but this one was somewhat forced upon me because of an unexpected slide down our studio stairs. I was blissfully day dreaming about starting a women's circle when I carelessly stepped down the stairs and proceeded to bump my left side down the well-worn oak stairs.
Support Your Spirit
In looking for some inspiration for writing this newsletter, I did not have to do much more than walk outside. It is amazing how beautiful and wonderful the world is, especially in the springtime after a long cold winter. It was not that long ago when people depended on new shoots and leaves of spring as the first fresh food since at least the Winter Solstice. IMAGINE if you HAD TO wait until the middle of March to eat fresh greens!
We had such an amazing time in Costa Rica last year that many people are wanting to go again! So please join us January 8-15, 2011, for a week of blissful yoga, deep meditation, communion with nature, and fun with some of the best people on the planet, all at the tropical mountainside paradise of�Â� Pura Vida Retreat Center and Spa in Costa Rica!

Supta Virasana, or Reclining Hero's Pose, is practiced by first situating yourself into Virasana, Hero's Pose. This pose can be very difficult on the knees, so take it easy. If you are unable to sit completely between your heels, as in the picture to the left, then sit on a yoga block or a blanket. You want to be sure that there is NO pain in the inner or outer knees. Take a few breaths here to settle into the pose and add props as needed.
Although some are talking about another 40 inches of snow this month, March is the month of the spring equinox and therefore heralds the beginning of spring. Until then, we are still in the water element and the end of the winter.
We are surprised to find, or not find rather, Vrschikasana, Scorpion Pose, listed among the backbends or the arm balances on the Yoga Journal List of Poses. As we wind down our backbends as we approach the spring equinox, we would be remiss in not including this challenging backbend among our poses.
There is no one pose that is the most feminine pose. Some poses are more feminine than others and some poses make you feel more feminine on different days of your practice. Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose, always feels very feminine to me. Perhaps it is because when I practice it on a good day, I feel extremely graceful and elegant. And while the name, camel pose, may not sound very feminine, Ustrasana, is very uplifting and powerful.
Defy - To challenge the power of; resist boldy and openly.
For any yogi who has a favorite friend of the canine variety, you cannot help but smile when they practice upward or downward dog. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, or upward facing dog, is another in our series of backward bending poses which is also clearly an arm and wrist strengthening pose. Poses such as Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Bridge Pose, are excellent preparatory poses for Upward Facing Dog pose.
Bhekasana or Frog Pose is another challenging backbend which requires strength not only in the back but also in the arms and flexibility in the shoulders. Bhekasana is best practiced after warming up with standing poses or other preparatory backbends.
Sometimes we get carried away with backbends. They tend to be fun and energetic poses, but we also need to remember that it is still wintertime and we are slowly coming out of our caves of hibernation and what we often need is a restorative yoga practice. Most of us need this form of yoga practice much more often than we like to admit. We can become wrapped up in the physicality of yoga poses and how yoga can make us stronger and more flexible and more virile. But yoga also restores us to balance and helps us relax and truly rest our western overactive minds and bodies.
dhanurasana (bow posture) Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose, is a fantastic back-bending pose for opening the chest and shoulders and strengthening the back. This pose is challenging as it reminds how important the legs are in back-bending poses. In addition to the strength in the back required for backbends, there is even more strength required in the legs, particularly the quadriceps.
ChaturangaChaturanga Dandasana or the Four-Limbed Staff Pose is also called Plank Position. Chaturanga Dandasana is itself not described as a backbend but is often used to prepare for backbends because it strengthens the spinal muscles. Plank pose is the infamous Yoga Push Up which is one of the sequence of asanas in Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations.
Butterfly PoseWhen determining which yoga pose to highlight today, I could not help but ask our Co-Founder, Peter Agelasto, what pose is his favorite yoga pose. Why? Because Today is his Birthday. He has given so much time, effort and resources to this project. He is the ultimate Karma Yogi.
Bhujangasana -Cobra Pose Open the heart and stretch the belly with Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose. Back bends stimulate the Kidney Energy and invigorate the heart. Back bends can counteract the effects of depression. During the winter, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, because of the decrease in light. Back bends, when practiced correctly, elevate our mood. This gentle back bend improves digestion and creates flexibility in the spine.
It is wintertime. One of the best seasons to practice yoga simply because it is an excellent indoor activity. In the chinese tradition, wintertime is a time to focus on balancing the Kidney Energy (Qi). One way to access the Kidney Qi is to practice backbends. And since it is February, it is also nice to focus on poses that open the heart. One of the myriad backbending asanas to choose from is Matsyasana or Lord of the Fishes pose. Yoga Journal has a good description for practicing Matsyasana. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a good video description of this pose, so we will just have to create one...
It is still cold here in Central Virginia. We have had an unusually precipitous Winter. Personally, I enjoy the change of seasons after several years living in a tropical climate in Southeast Asia. This Winter we have been challenged to slow down, go inside, reflect, meditate and truly hibernate. This can be difficult for those of us who prefer the growth of the Spring Season or the Fire of the Summer Season.
We are busy bees around here putting the final touches on the new iHanuman.com website. We will keep you posted with progress.
We wanted to share with you our latest podcast, a discussion of the Upanishads with Neil Bhatt. This lecture is brought to you live from the Charlottesville Yoga School. Make sure you have subscribed to our podcasts, so you can be the first to receive them when they go out. Simply visit the iHanuman.com Podcasts Page to learn more about podcasts and how to subscribe.
The mission of the Africa Yoga Project is to empower youth, build a global community and increase well-being in East Africa. They have introduced hundreds of students in Kenya to the practice of yoga, as well provided educational scholarships, job training food stipends, temporary housing and health services. Our core group of students are from impoverished backgrounds in Nairobi, Kenya, are between 16-30 years old and live on under $2 per day. Many are personally affected by HIV/AIDS and are living/have once lived on the streets.�Â� Visit the Africa Yoga Project for More information.
Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati (1923 - 2009) RAM RAM SATYA HAI OM NAMAH SHIVA http://www.yogavision.net/home.htm
BRRR! It sure is cold out. Winter has finally arrived and looks like it is here to stay. Wintertime is a time when we are asked to be particularly smart and intelligent. Why? Because if you are not, you can freeze to death! Now, thankfully, most of us are not likely in a position to freeze to death but we do run the risk of leaking heat into the cold outside and therefore losing precious energy. Our immune systems can be easily taxed so we must preserve our energy to sustain us through the cold months ahead. We are no longer graced by the bounty of the summer harvest, so we must dig into our root cellars and preserved foods to carry us through.
2009 - December: Maha Sadhana Intensives with Chandra Come join Chandra for the advanced Maha Sadhana Shiva Namaskar advanced vinyasa series. The advanced series is a unique, beautiful and vigorous sequence, incorporating many of the little known postures and their advanced variations. For Intermediate thru Advanced Yogis, though all are welcome, and may work at your own pace. Chandra will help you according to your abilities and needs. Friday, Dec 11 5:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday, Dec 12 5:30pm-8:30pm $50/intensive (pre-registration),
$60/intensive (one week prior--space permitting)
2010 - January: 250 hour Teacher Training
John Schumacher is making headlines in the Washington, DC metropolitan area for his pioneering efforts to bring Yoga to the area 30 years ago this year! Watch a short News Clip of John on Washington Business Tonight and then go visit him at his Bethesda, Maryland Studio. If you do not reside in the area, remember you can Practice Yoga Daily with John Schumacher by downloading his classes. His Spring 2009 class recordings are now available through our download store and Summer 2009 will be available in December.
Little Altars EverywhereMy husband and I just returned from our honeymoon in Greece. As a novice traveling in Europe, everything was magnificent. I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and Africa over the last decade and always knew I would explore Europe later in life.
September is Yoga Month so we hope to provide you with lots of ideas and opportunities for practicing yoga this month. On September 20, 2009, Los Angeles Yogis are inspiring yoga communities around the world to come together and practice yoga collectively. Events are being coordinated world-wide in the name of yoga, seva and collective consciousness. The aim is to show the power of prayer and meditation when practiced communally and intentionally world-wide. From the Global Mala Project website:
A Guru is a person whose very presence imparts truth and awakening in the disciple. When I traveled to Mysore for the first time at the age of 22 I asked Sri K. Pattabhi Jois where I could find the illusive state of inner peace that all yoga practice seeks to instill. Known as Guruji to his students, he said "You take it practice many years, then Shantih is coming... no problem" and my heart opened to the grace of his teaching. It is my great fortune to consider this amazing man my teacher and I attribute the depth of my personal practice and teaching to the light that Guruji's fire ignited within me.
We are pleased to announce that Kino MacGregor will sell her first yoga video, " A Journey, A Workshop" with iHanuman. From her website: "In this two part DVD certified Ashtanga yoga instructor Kino MacGregor makes the mastery of strength available for everybody. All levels from beginner to advanced will benefit from learning the techniques presented here. Easily applicable to all yoga practitioners, the explanation given will greatly improve your ability to understand and actually do some of yoga's most challenging strength-based postures.
Practice at home with Betsey and Jaye as they lead you through 12 progessively taught 55-minute sessions in Anusara Yoga. Betsey and Jaye teach a logically sequenced series of poses within each class, gradually advancing the poses across a series of 12 classes. Perfect for beginners or experienced students looking for inspiration in their home practice. Get the entire set and experience the fun and power of progressive teaching. View Samples of the Videos and Download...
A weekend program September 18-20 at the beautiful Barn at Split Rock Farm. Because it is sponsored by Charlottesville Yoga School, CEUs from Yoga Alliance are available. The intention behind an equinox intensive is to take advantage of the changing of the seasons to inspire students to rejuvenate their yoga practice. Given the time of year it is safe to say that over the course of the weekend there will be lots of core work and twisting postures; in the Level III/IV classes I also plan to work in some challenging backbends, deep forward folding, and work on inversions.
Lighten Up Yoga, located at 60 Biltmore Avenue, announces FREE YOGA DAY and Fundraiser for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Saturday September 12th Open to all students, the classes are an opportunity to learn about yoga in a safe and supportive environment and support the local farms that nurture and sustain us. In the spirit of community, Lighten Up will be collecting donations for ASAP. Clear your mind and connect with heart at Lighten Up Yoga while helping this great cause.
Fall LeavesSeptember has arrived and is nearing time to put away our summer clothes in preparation for the chillier days and nights of Fall. The change of seasons from summer to fall is the ideal time to "Take Stock" for the Wintertime: assess how we have grown over the summer months, put aside what no longer serves us and begin to save some of our energy for the long winter months ahead.

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